Gardens and Landscapes—

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					Gardens and Landscapes
Prof. Anna Piussi
V43.9650.002
4 points
Monday-Wednesday 9.00-12.00

Class lectures take place at NYU, Villa Ulivi, Room Pisa. Please keep syllabus and
check all dates for field trips. My email address is: anna.piussi@nyu.edu
Mobile number for emergencies: 348-4946272

   1. DESCRIPTION

Since antiquity, people have created gardens as private spaces in which to cultivate the
mind and the spirit, developing from humble spaces of both spiritual and healing plants
to theatrical setting of grandiose events. Italy is home to a wide variety of gardens which
range from Roman antiquity to the present day, and, as the wellspring of a design which
has been imitated the world over, is arguably the best place to study the History of
Gardens and Landscapes.
Garden design is a unique form of art in which human ingenuity is in constant dialogue
with Nature. The natural environment has always been a source of Gods, spirits and
symbols – in shaping the landscape into gardens, humans have periodically redefined
their position in the natural word: since antiquity, people have made gardens to appease
and ingratiate gods, to seek a contact with God, or to project themselves as God-like
creators. While the garden is ‘a room outside’, attached to an architectural setting, it is
also a microcosm of the society which created it.
The Ancient Romans model for urban courtyard gardens and for large Villa Estates set a
standard across the Roman Empire. In Spain, the subsequent wave of Islamic
civilization improved upon these precedents, and Moorish gardens became renowned
for their beauty in Medieval Europe. In the rest of Europe, politically fragmented and
unsafe since fall of the Roman Empire, the garden arts survived principally in religious
communities. Medieval monasteries had gardens for culinary and medicinal herbs, as
well as cloisters for prayer and meditation.
It was in Renaissance Florence, “the city of Flowers”, that the art of garden making was
revived, and this formal Italian style spread across Europe. Renaissance Villas were
ideally supported by the productive landscape around them, but at their core were
refined gardens devoted to the Arts, made for philosophical debate, poetry, sculpture,
music and theatre. The ruling Medici family built a chain of increasingly lavish and
theatrical Villas around Florence. Gardens were created as an open-air museum of arts,
and for medical and botanical research.
Revived in Florence, gardens reached new heights of grandeur in Rome and vicinity,
and received the attention of enlightened patrons in other Italian courts and cities –
including Mantova, Verona, and Lucca. This course focuses on the gardens of Florence
and vicinity, in class lectures and field trips, but also offers a background preparation to
gardens which we will be able to visit on weekend school trips.

    2. OBJECTIVES
The students will learn to identify practical factors of garden and landscape design, and
will become aware of the socio/historical background to Tuscan gardens. They will
acquire the tools to explore on their own a much wider landscape. Knowledge of natural
science will add to their understanding of garden history, while a glimpse of historical
and artistic events will complement their botanical studies. As an important facet of
Italian art, gardens will add greatly to the formation of art, photography, literature and
cinema students.

     3. METHOD and FIELD TRIPS
The class is divided into slide lectures in class, and field trips to gardens and other sites.
Field trips are an essential part of the course – on occasions there will be specialists to
grant you access to areas otherwise shut to the general public. Note: the Certosa is a
religious building, so dress accordingly: no tank tops or shorts.

   4. Health and safety issues
IMPORTANT: Italian law 626/94 on safety in the workplace, including schools, requires
protective footgear for all field work. This means that BY LAW you must wear proper
shoes on ALL lectures given outside of class, including field trips in Florence. Wear light
walking shoes, trekking shoes, or running shoes, with socks! You will be sent back if
wearing flip-flops on a field trip.
Insects: There are mosquitoes in woodlands, shady and damp places and pretty much
anyplace. Loose and long cotton clothes are good; bring your own mosquito repellent.
There is no Poison Ivy in Italy, but some plants are irritant – such as nettles – so don’t go
around gardens half-naked! Hats, sunscreen and a small bottle of water are useful in
large gardens.

   5. EVALUATION-GRADING SYSTEM
15% Attendance
10% Class presentation
5% Bibliography and notes/quotes for presentation.
20% Mid-term exam
20% Take-home assignment 1
30% Take-home assignment 2

   6. TESTS – ASSIGNMENTS – SOURCES
During the course you will be required to take one exam (Mid-term), two take-home
assignment and give a presentation on site.

Mid-term (this format may change):
10-11 Short answer questions, on plants, symbolism, and history of gardens. 1 map test
and 1 long essay out of a choice. Map test consists in marking out on a map the main
features of a garden visited and briefly discussing some of these features.

Class presentations:
Give a five- to ten-minute presentation to the class on a specific topic to be agreed with
me. The reports will be given on site, so it will be an occasion to introduce to your fellow
students the garden we are going to be in. You can discuss the historical development of
the garden, or focus on specific features, plant uses and categories, style, use or
function of the garden, literature on the garden – you have a lot of choice!
Bring a bullet-point list of topics you will cover – don’t read out a whole paper. You can
quote literary sources, but try to limit your quotes to one or two very significant ones. The
should be a summary of your research, and should already include a written bibliography
of sources consulted. At the end of presentation you have to hand in your brief notes
and a copy of your bibliography.
Assignments:
All assignments to be Arial type font size 12, double spaced, printed out. Must include
bibliography, internet sources are acceptable but not to exceed one half of total
sources consulted. A paper with no printed sources in bibliography will be automatically
downgraded by one full letter grade!

Take-home assigment 1
   Length: 3 pages (ca. 1200 words)
Subject: Medieval Gardens in Tuscany – sacred and secular

   • Take-home assignement 2:
   Length: 4-5 pages (ca. 1600-1800 words)
Final written report on the subject of your presentation, including bibliography. Reports
may be illustrated with photographs, drawings, ground plans.

    7. TEXT BOOK – required readings:
Required purchase – available at Villa Ulivi.
Pozzana, Mariachiara, Gardens of Florence and Tuscany – a Complete Guide, 2001.
price: ???
Course pack – circa 14 euro

Further readings, in Villa Ulivi’s library:

James Ackerman, The Villa, 1985
Sophie Bajard and Raffaello Bencini, Villas and Gardens of Tuscany, 1993
Daniela Mignani, The Medicean Villas by Giusto Utens, Florence 1991
John Dixon Hunt, ed., The Italian Garden: art, design and culture, 1996
J. Jellicoe and J.C.Sheperd, Italian Gardens of the Renaissance, 1993
Georgina Masson, Italian Gardens, 1961
Charles A. Platt, Italian Gardens, 1993
Van der Ree, Smienk, Steenbergen, Italian Villas and Gardens, 1993
   8. LESSONS

    1. Monday 29 June – Villa Ulivi
Introduction. What is a garden? Horticulture v.agriculture. Origins of gardens. Features
of Tuscan gardens and landscapes. Class lecture and walking visit of Villa La Pietra’s
Pomario.

   2. Wednesday 1 July – Field trip – Certosa del Galluzzo
Medieval gardens. The Cloister garden and monastic communities. The extended
gardens of the monastic community – self sufficiency and sustainability in the medieval
world and now.
Meeting place: TBA

    3. Monday 6 July – Field trip
Museo Firenze com’era. Urban and suburban gardens in Florence, from Roman times
to the Renaissance. Monastic institutions and botanical studies. Justus Uten’s Lunettes.
This will be followed by Visit to Officina di Santa Maria Novella - A Pharmacy of
Medieval Monastic Origins, still specialized in herbal medicine and herbal cosmetics.
Meet at 9:00 AM at corner of Via dell’Oriolo and Piazza del Duomo, behind the Duomo.
Buses: 6, 10, 11, 17 – from Piazza San Marco.
Get off at the end of Via Martelli – when you see the Duomo, cross between Duomo
façade and Baptistry turn left and walk straight alongside Duomo, it’s 3 minutes from the
stop.

   4. Wednesday 8 July – Villa Ulivi.
Characteristics of Renaissance Villa Gardens. The Villa as cultural and economic entity.
Medici Villas and gardens..

    5. Monday 13 July – Field trip
Boboli gardens. Exhibition of Roman garden models. Cultivation of foreign plants as an
index of wealth and for botanical research. Citrus collections and the limonaia. Elements
of horticulture.
Meet in front of Palazzo Pitti at 9 AM.
Bus n.11 from Piazza San Marco – get off after Ponte alla Carraia. Walk left down Borgo
Santo Spirito to corner of Via Maggio, take right at the fountain in the wall and walk to
the end till you get to Via Guicciardini, turn right and you get to Piazza Pitti.
             • Hand in Assignement 1.

   6. Wednesday 15 July – Villa Ulivi.
Gardens of High Renaissance in Tuscany and Lazio. Preparation for Rome visit –
Hadrian’s Villa and Villa d’Este.

    7. Monday 20 July - Field trip.
Boboli gardens - part II. Development of Boboli gardens from the Renaissance to the
19th century – layout and features. Renaissance revival of Grottos: Grotticina di Madama
and Grotta Grande. The Knight’s garden and the Isolotto.
Meet in front of Palazzo Pitti at 9 AM.
Bus n.11 from Piazza San Marco – get off after Ponte Santa Trinita. Walk down Via
Maggio, take 5th alley left, Sdrucciolo de Pitti, to get to Piazza Pitti.
   8. Wednesday 22 July - Villa Ulivi
   a) Midterm.
   b) Features of Renaissance, Baroque and English landscape gardens. Gardens of
   Lucca.

    9. Monday 27 July – Field trip.
Giardino Torrigiani in Florence. An exclusive private garden, the largest within the city
walls, in the “English landscape” style. The garden can be read as an initiation path
signposted by mysterious symbols.
    Meet in Piazza della Calza, at Porta Romana, inside city walls, at 9:00 AM.
Bus n. 11 from Piazza San Marco

    10. Wednesday 29 July - Field trip
Villa Gamberaia, Settignano. Renaissance, Baroque, and neo-Renaissance features of
a spectacular private garden overlooking the Arno Valley.
    Meet in Piazza San Marco at 8:30 AM. We will be taking bus n.10 to Settignano.
    Bring 2 city bus tickets (ATAF).

   11. Monday 3 August - Villa La Pietra
   Villa I Tatti, Villa Capponi, Villa La Pietra. Cecil Pinsent and the Anglo-American
   legacy in Tuscany. Class and garden lecture.
           • Hand in assignment 2

   12. Wednesday 5 August – Field trip
Giardino della Limonaia dell’Imperialino. Contemporary garden with drought-tolerant
perennial planting. Followed by walk to Piazzale Michelangelo along Viale dei Colli.
Nineteenth-century picturesque planting and panorama.
Meet in Piazza della Calza, at Porta Romana, inside city walls, at 9:00 AM.

				
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